I was born in the mid 1970s, so I’ve seen Tandy Leather kits in various stores and catalogs my whole life. It never occurred to me that they might have done something besides kits in earlier years.
In brief, Charles Tandy joined the Navy in World War II, when Tandy Leather was Hinckley-Tandy Leather Company and specialized in shoe leather. He saw that leatherwork projects were being used for therapy and rehabilitation in military hospitals and recreation centers. So he wrote his father Dave Tandy about what he was seeing and his ideas for growing their company’s business.
Dave Tandy agreed and found that while regular leather was in short supply, there were specialty leathers that could be used for small kits.
The article also mentions that many soldiers on active duty learned a little bit of leatherwork so they could work on and customize their own leather gear. It also mentions that many of the people who today are well-known leather pattern designers started out leatherwork while in the military.